Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Creating new-to-the-world deadly organisms ought to be illegal

Scientist reveals how he made bird flu that could spread between people
The Guardian
3 April 2012

Researcher created a hybrid of H5N1 bird flu and swine flu viruses then isolated a strain that can infect cells in the throat...

Defending the work, Kawaoka said is was carried out in a high-security laboratory where all of the staff had been vetted by the FBI. The work was "important for pandemic preparedness" and emphasised the need for countries to stockpile vaccines to combat bird flu....
I doubt that Kawaoka is affiliated with al Qaeda, or even worse, an animal rights group. If the FBI had consider the safety and compliance records of the researchers -- genuine risks to the public's safety -- maybe their vetting would have come to a different conclusion.

The real question in all of this isn't whether or not the newly created organisms are as deadly as some scientists originally feared, apparently they aren't, but that the next one might be. Creating new-to-the-world deadly organisms is the height of hubris and folly. Such research ought to be banned internationally.

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